Workshops & Talks 2020

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February 2020 WORKSHOP with Victoria Riley “A Taste of Indonesian Batik” (report by Diane Moore)

Victoria explained that she had travelled quite a lot as a child with her parents and by the time she was a teenager she was living in Indonesia and became aware of how batik was made. Her GCSE’s and A levels were completed in the UK after which time she took a summer out to go back to Indonesia where she studied the art of making Batik at the Batik institute in Jakarta. Fast forward to current day and Victoria has turned her love and passion for Indonesian Batik into a working business of teaching this skill in the form of workshops.

We started the day with calico pieces approximately A4 in size and then using some template pictures placed under our calico we drew around the design in pencil onto our calico. Alternatively, you could do a design freehand if you felt confident to do that. Next came the interesting part of going over the outline with melted wax – paraffin wax which can be melted and maintained at a constant temperature in the kind of device you may find at a beauticians. In fact my friend suggested I may want to do her upper lip during lunch!! Now that’s just being cheeky!!

There is a definite knack and understanding to using the Tjantings, which is the utensil pen like vessel for applying the wax, but after a bit of trial and error we were getting to grips with it. The wax was going to create the resist for the dye to be applied. After lunch this is where the real fun started – applying the dyes. It was a real reminder of mixing colours and letting our artistic freedom and inner child run wild. So all in all a very interesting day learning a different way of colouring fabric with many varied results as you can see from the pictures.

Thank you very much Victoria.

January 2020 TALK by Sarah Thursfield”Of Seamstresses and Shirts: Plain and Not-So-Plain Sewing” (report by Sarah Lowes)

Sarah Thursfield, author of ‘The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant’ and (online) ‘Guide to Shirtmaking’ makes clothes for serious historical enactments. She says that “If you’re going to present history to the public, you owe it to history to get it right.”Sarah explained to us that most outer apparel in history was made by men but that it is a thousand year old tradition for shifts, shirts, sheets, towels, baby clothes and sanitary towels to be made by seamstresses and maintained by laundry women.She talked about the coarsely woven fabrics used for sacks and the finer ones used for clothes. We were surprised to learn that finer linens could be woven in the past by hand than today by machine!

Sarah took us through the history of shirts and shifts and how their construction changed as the years went by. We looked at the wide, garments of the Dark Ages and then at the narrower shape of men’s tunics and sleeves in the 14th century. It was very interesting to see how the low necks of men’s shirts in the 15th century with their many pleats gathered into the neckband eventually evolved into the ruff. From plain, white simple garments, both shirts and shifts became far more showy with fancy stitches along the seams, becoming redwork, blackwork, lace insertions and embroidered neckbands and plackets. The ruff itself was later given lace along the edge and the smart gentleman would have had a matching pair of cuffs and tops for his boots, while a lady would have smarted up her well-worn dress with a lace tartlet and ornamental apron.It was lovely to see Sarah’s reproduction garments, all made with care and accuracy